Tribute to Tarzan

Warner Brothers has announced that it is developing a new Tarzan film based on the Edgar Rice Burroughs' classic. Already speculation has begun in connection with who will play Tarzan. Will the studio look to play it safe and cast a bankable star in the new film or will it go the route of previous Tarzan films and search for a newcomer? Having just seen Apollo Ohno last night on Dancing With The Stars, looking really pumped and hot without his shirt on, I'm casting my bid for him in the lead but that's probably because I want to see what his beefy, muscular butt looks like in a loin cloth!  In any case, I'd like to share some images of previous Tarzan's starting with Herman Brix aka Bruce Bennett who starred in serials as the legendary man raised in the jungle by apes.

Probably the most popular of all Tarzans was the Olympic swimming star Johnny Weissmuller. The legendary photographer Hurrell photographed Weissmuller practically naked and even placed him on a pedestal in one of his famous poses, something quite risque for its day. 

Many of Weissmuller's Tarzan films were shot pre-code before Hollywood adopted a screening board that would censor films on the grounds of indecency.  Hence Maureen O'Sullivan swam nude in Tarzan The Ape Man and Johnny's loincloth provided a lovely side view of Johnny's muscular legs and butt. Those films produced with Johnny in the 1940s after the code was enacted were considerably less generous. 

 Buster Crabbe was one hunk of a Tarzan but the serial films in which he appeared were crudely and quickly produced and were not up to the standards of the MGM series with Johnny Weissmuller.

My favorite Tarzan was Gordon Scott who was plucked from obscurity to star in Tarzan's Hidden Jungle in 1955. Legend has it that Scott was a car hop at the Sahara Hotel in Las Vegas when he was asked by a talent scout to audition for the role of  Tarzan. He can be seen before he began shooting his first Tarzan film in an episode of Groucho Marx's You Bet Your Life, discussing his discovery and his upcoming film role.

Gordon is my favorite Tarzan for two reasons. First, he was one hunk of a man with a beautiful face and a gorgeously toned body. Second, I met him just before his death at an autograph show in Burbank and I asked him to autograph some of my lobby cards from his films. He couldn't have been nicer and even at eighty, his face was remarkably handsome.

Luckily, the code was no longer being enforced here! What legs and what a butt!

 Lex Barker was also a popular Tarzan, who preceded Gordon Scott in the MGM series. His face was reminiscent of early Johnny Weissmuller although his body was certainly leaner than Weismuller's. Unfortunately, none of his film are particularly memorable. Barker married Lana Turner and was accused of raping Lana's daughter, although he was never convicted of the crime.


Gordon Scott's last Tarzan films were not enormous successes and the franchise greatly deteriorated after he departed the series. Some later Tarzans include Ron Ely, Mike Henry and Denny Miller seen below.

Christopher Lambert appeared as Tarzan in Greystoke: The Legend Of Tarzan, an ambitious retelling of the Tarzan tale that was more true to the Edgar Rice Burrough's source than any of the previous screen adaptations but in spite of its virtues, the film was relatively unsuccessful. Some found Christopher Lambert a bit too anemic looking for the part.

Bo Derek and her husband at the time John Derek decided to produce what they described as a feminist version of Tarzan The Ape Man. It was intended as a vehicle for Bo Derek and was savaged by the critics. The one saving grace of the film is that it introduced Miles O'Keefe as Tarzan. He spoke no dialogue in the film but displayed a body that never stopped. He is probably one of the sexiest Tarzans to ever grace the screen. Unfortunately, the only nudity in the film was Bo's. John Derek never did know how to direct.

COMING SOON: Tarzan Part 2 --- I plan to feature some original lobby cards from the classic Tarzan films which are part of my permanent collection.
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